This Liberty HealthShare review is an accurate portrayal of our experience as Liberty Healthshare members. However, the piece does include affiliate links. If you decide to join, we’d love for you to use our links. At no additional cost to you, we’ll receive a small commission for the referral. Thanks in advance and we hope you enjoy the review!
Did your Obamacare rates just jump through the roof? Maybe you lost your coverage and don’t know where to turn? Trust me, I know the feeling.
Shortly after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was rolled out, my family was faced with a similarly impossible decision. Our old health insurance plan, which cost $393 per month and came with a $11,000 family deductible, was being cancelled because it didn’t meet ACA requirements. Yet, the new Obamacare plans cost more than twice as much AND came with even higher family deductibles to boot! (See: Why We’re Opting Out of Obamacare)
After a few months of digging, I discovered how some families were protecting themselves while still saving money on healthcare costs. The answer: Healthcare sharing ministries. After some serious comparison shopping between sharing plans, my family joined Liberty HealthShare in January of 2014.
I wanted to write a Liberty HealthShare review right away, but 2015 was pretty uneventful for us on the healthcare front. Aside from our regular annual visits, none of us went to the doctor at all. So, I didn’t have a great idea of whether the program was going to work or not.
On the other hand, all of us have seen the doctor in 2016, and we’ve even had a few procedures done. Now that we have some real claims history to report, a Liberty HealthShare review makes more sense.
In this post, I’ll discuss why we joined Liberty HealthShare, the biggest benefits we’ve gained, and how it has worked so far.
What is Liberty HealthShare?
Liberty HealthShare is a healthcare sharing ministry providing an alternative to Obamacare plans. While not traditional “health insurance,” it’s members pay for medical expenses similarly by sharing costs. For example, members pay a monthly “sharing” contribution instead of a health insurance premium. Then, the cover an “annual unshared amount” (similar to a deductible) before the share of expenses kicks in.
Liberty HealthShare: How It Works
Unlike the ACA-approved health insurance plans, Liberty HealthShare and other Christian sharing ministries don’t have to accept everyone who applies due to their religious exemption. If you smoke, have a chronic health condition, or are otherwise unhealthy due to weight or some other condition, you will likely be denied – at least initially.
In my opinion, this is one of the biggest drawbacks of sharing plans. On the flip side, not accepting those with existing health problems and “risky” lifestyles does help to keep costs down. With that said, even if you’re denied at Liberty Healthshare, all is not lost. If you’re serious about becoming healthier, you may still be eligible to join under Liberty’s HealthTrac™ “health coaching” option.
Additionally, Liberty HealthShare and other healthcare sharing ministries require a little more work on your part. When you use a healthcare sharing ministry, you are responsible for making sure your medical bills are submitted. In some cases, your healthcare provider will submit bills directly to Liberty HealthShare for you. Other times, you will need to mail or fax the bills yourself.
Personally, I don’t mind monitoring our healthcare bills myself. I like to keep our spending in check anyway, and it’s not hard to scan and email bills. I just send them off and check the website to make sure they were submitted correctly. On the flip side, I appreciate it when our doctor’s office takes care of this task for us. Over the last year, I would say this responsibility has fallen on us about 50 percent of the time.
With that being said, here’s what my Liberty HealthShare “inbox” looks like. Just by logging in, you can see which bills have been submitted, when each was paid, and how much your responsibility might be.
Other than how bills are submitted and the fact that healthcare sharing ministries can be picky about who they accept, the process is very familiar. For example, with Liberty HealthShare, we each get a “free” annual checkup. While it isn’t always necessary, that perk itself saves us around $600 per year. And like I mentioned already, we have an “annual unshared amount” that is similar to a health insurance deductible. After we meet that unshared amount, 100% of our costs are shared by the members – up to $1 million dollars per incident, based on the guidelines.
Liberty HealthShare Programs and Options
By and large, Liberty HealthShare offers three different levels of sharing. I’ll explain the one my family chose in a minute, but let’s first take a look at all three.
Liberty Complete is the most comprehensive of the programs. With this option, a family of four with adults over the age of 30 will pay $449 per month, while a younger family with kids would pay just $399 per month. Couples and singles pay even less. On this program members share costs up to $1,000,000 per incident or illness based on the guidelines which are subject to the “annual unshared amount.” Annual unshared amounts are: $1,500 per family, $1,000 for a couple, or $500 for a single member.
Liberty Plus costs a little less each month and offers a correspondingly lower level of sharing. A family of four with adults over the age of 30 would pay $424 per month. A younger family would pay $374, and couples and singles pay even less. The same annual unshared amounts apply ($1,500/family, $1,000/couple, $500/individual), yet sharing is limited to just $125,000 per incident or illness.
Liberty Share is the lowest tier program. With this sharing option, a family of four with adults over the age of 30 would pay $395 per month, and a younger family would pay $345. Couples and singles still pay less, and the annual deductibles stay the same ($1,500/family, $1,000/couple, $500/individual). The biggest difference here is medical expenses are shared at only 70% per incident up to $125,000, as per the guidelines.
With all three sharing programs, there is an annual membership fee that goes down to just $75 after the first year.
Liberty HealthShare: How Much Can You Save?
As I’ve shared before (See: “Why We’re Joining a Healthcare Sharing Ministry“), we joined Liberty HealthShare to avoid astronomical healthcare costs. With Obamacare plans in our area starting at about $800 per month with $12,000+ deductibles, we were facing total healthcare costs of over $20,000 if we met our deductible in a single year. Of course, there are subsidies available for those who earn less than 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL), but we don’t qualify.
Instead of paying over $800 a month plus facing a $12,000+ deductible, with Liberty HealthShare, we chose the Liberty Complete sharing program… and still pay just $449 per month. Even better, we have a $1,500 “annual unshared amount” instead of the $12K or $13K deductibles offered by the most affordable Obamacare plans in our state.
It’s no secret that prices for insurance on the open market continue to skyrocket. Of course, everyone’s situation is different, but you do the math.
For us, Liberty HealthShare was a no-brainer. We’re saving thousands of dollars every year ($300-$400 every month) by opting out of health insurance and sharing medical costs instead! That’s pretty crazy when you think about it, and it doesn’t even take into account the $12,000+ deductible that I might have had to pay if we had health insurance. It’s just another reason I feel confident in our decision to choose Liberty HealthShare.
Liberty HealthShare Advantages
- Save money. Depending on how much Obamacare plans cost in your area, you can easily save a few hundred dollars each month.
- Avoid high deductibles. You would have to get a gold Obamacare plan to have a $1,500 deductible these days. But with all Liberty HealthShare plans, your “annual unshared amount” is limited to $1,500 per year for a family, $1,000 for a couple, or $500 for singles.
- Escape the Obamacare penalty. By joining a healthcare sharing ministry, you can avoid the Obamacare penalty. This tax equals 2.5% of your household income in 2017.
- Know where your healthcare dollars are going. Since healthcare sharing ministries don’t cover certain procedures the group finds “morally objectionable,” you can rest assured your dollars are being spent on healthcare procedures you agree with.
- You can see any doctor you want. While Obamacare plans come with increasingly narrow networks, Liberty HealthShare lets you see any doctor of your choosing. All they ask is that you shop around and negotiate for the best rates.
- Low administrative costs. Liberty HealthShare keeps their administrative costs low. According to their website, an average of just 12% of your sharing dollars are spent on administrative expenses. That means 88% of your sharing dollars are used to pay for the medical needs of others in the network.
Liberty HealthShare Disadvantages
- You may not qualify. If you smoke, are obese, or have a chronic health condition, you may not qualify for a healthcare sharing ministry. However, if you are committed to improving your health, you may qualify for HealthTrac™. This is a health coaching program designed to improve your health and may allow you to become a member.
- There is a religious component. Since these programs are generally geared toward Christians, you may not feel comfortable joining if you aren’t.
- You need to monitor your own bills closely. While your doctor’s office may handle your claim for you, you’ll need to monitor your expenses online to make sure they post correctly.
- There are arguments over whether or not your premiums are deductible if you own a business. Since this isn’t “insurance,” some accountants argue you cannot deduct your monthly share amount if you own a business. Our accountant disagreed, however, so we have deducted our sharing contributions for the last two years. There is definitely a gray area here.
- Medical cost sharing is not unlimited. Obamacare plans don’t limit coverage. Liberty HealthShare members only share costs up to $125,000 or $1,000,000 per illness or incident, based on the group’s guidelines. If you ended up with an incredibly expensive illness or injury, you could potentially blow through that limit fast.
Liberty Healthshare Review: The Bottom Line
After almost two years with Liberty HealthShare, I am extremely confident we made the right decision. We’re saving money every month, and we get to see any doctor of our choosing. As an added bonus, our out-of-pocket costs are limited and our annual unshared amount is just $1,500.
If you’re considering a healthcare sharing ministry, I urge you to compare Liberty with the other options out there. I liked some other comparable programs, but we chose to go with Liberty HealthShare because we felt that the payments and sharing arrangement made sense for our situation. And if you’re struggling under the weight and expense of unreasonable Obamacare plans, it makes sense to shop around as much as you can.
Again, if you choose to join Liberty HealthShare based on this review, I’d love to refer you! We get a small commission for each referral and would greatly appreciate your support!
Have you ever heard of healthcare sharing ministries? Would you join one? Why or why not?